By Christina Leslie |Correspondent

“When a member of Christ’s Body dies, the faithful are called to a ministry of consolation to those who have suffered the loss of one whom they love. Christian consolation is rooted in that hope that comes from faith in the saving death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

These words, excerpted from the Order of Christian Funerals, expresses the core of bereavement ministry encouraged and supported by the Diocesan Department of Pastoral Care.

John Kalinowski, director of the department, acknowledged the need to offer enrichment and instruction to those who minister to others in times of great loss, in order to meet the call of the Church to “each member of Christ’s Body – priest, deacon, lay person – to participate in the ministry of consolation: to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn” (OCF).

The Diocese of Trenton aims to provide bereavement education, resources and support to parishes and care providers via two-day workshops for initial training, and follow-up enrichment days and seminars. Topics discussed include understanding the grief process, developing communication skills in dealing with the bereaved and training in the facilitation of support groups.

The Department of Pastoral Care has adapted the material issued by the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved for use in a training program for facilitators. “Training consists of formal presentation of the bereavement materials but, more importantly, a hands-on approach to forming groups, effective communication (empathetic and reflective listening skills) and group dynamics,” reported Kalinowski. “Our coordinators have many years of running their own support groups as well as assisting in the training of new facilitators.”

Bereaving children’s special needs prompted inclusion of the international RAINBOWS Ministry into the Diocese. Available to parishes, schools, religious education and youth programs, RAINBOWS is organized according to guidelines instituted by the non-profit, Chicago-based organization which has served more than 2.7 million youth since its inception in 1983. Kalinowski, a registered RAINBOWS facilitator, can assist in finding local programs.

Kalinowski noted the ever-increasing desire for these services within the parish families of the Diocese. He revealed, “Bereavement support is the most of any of our calls and emails that we receive each week. Our process is to find a local parish and contact the person, whether it be for themselves or a family member, and get them the support they need one-on-one or in the context of a support group.”

The ministry is growing within the Trenton Diocese, Kalinowski reported. “We estimate over 300 active people involved in this ministry throughout the Diocese in [about] 80 parishes,” he enumerated. “In the past year we have trained 66 new facilitators at 28 parishes across the Diocese.”

The next diocesan training workshop, slated for April 4-5, will be held in Holy Family Parish’s Community Center, 1143 East County Line Road, Lakewood, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Attendance on both days is required to complete facilitator training. Participants are invited to bring any parish bereavement materials they would like to share. The cost of the workshop is $75 per person; parishes may choose to subsidize this fee.

To register, send name, address, phone, email, and parish name and town, along with a check made payable to the Diocese of Trenton, to the Department of Pastoral Care, Attention John M. Kalinowski; Diocese of Trenton, 701 Lawrenceville Road, P.O. Box 5147, Trenton, N.J. 08638. Registration is due by March 28. For further information, contact the Pastoral Care department at 609-403-7157.